Conservation Groups Fight Eureka Mine in Federal Court Today
EUREKA, Nev. – The battle to stop the proposed Eureka mine at Mount Hope, Nevada, moves to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco today.
Attorneys for the Western Mining Action Project will ask the three-judge panel to overturn a Reno federal district court's ruling that upheld the permits for the mine, which would produce molybdenum, a metal used to harden steel.
According to John Hadder, director of the Great Basin Resource Watch, the proposed mine would pump water from the local aquifer for 43 years.
"The plan is to pump 10.7 million gallons per day," he explained. "That amount of groundwater removal will affect the federal water reserves. It will affect private water rights as well."
Opponents are also concerned that the mine has the potential to leak wastewater, known as acid mine drainage, tainted with heavy metals like selenium, mercury, and arsenic. The mining company, General Moly, completed an environmental assessment and said the operation would comply with all government regulations.
Hadder is convinced the case could have national implications.
"If they agree with us, it could impact mine projects across the West, because federal water reserves exist in a lot of places where dewatering or water use could affect those as well," he added.
A group of Eureka County ranchers who want to protect private water rights already won a case in state court that vacated the project's permits from the state water engineer.
Hadder said the project is currently on hold while the company assembles the financing and reapplies for those permits.